20 September 2017 Read: 62
Currently the fire brigade has no way of communicating with each other during an emergency. The fire truck crews who operate within the various municipalities managed by the Mopani District Municipality, have no radio communications due to a relay tower that was hit by lighting more than six months ago.
In an emergency situation, once the trucks leave the fire station, there is no way for the fire chief or command centre to communicate with the crews or coordinate operations. Firemen have to stay in touch with their chief through the use of their own cell phones and at their own cost while attending an emergency. According to our source, the relay tower can be restored at a minimal cost of less than R20 000, but funds are not being allocated for this purpose.
The problem has allegedly been brought to the attention of the Mopani District a few months ago, but nothing has been done to rectify the matter.
One of our sources alleged that because the Mopani District Fire Brigade does not receive funding directly from the state, such as in the case of the Working on Fire Programme, the money is funnelled away by the district municipality to pay their overdue Municipal Infrastructure Grant (MIG) accounts. The Working on Fire programme allegedly receives around R800 million directly from the state to perform their duties.
“The money disappears into the Equitable Share account. We are supposed to receive in the region of R50 million, but we never see that money as it is funnelled out of the equitable share account into the overdue MIG accounts which in turn have been run dry through misappropriation by the top management.”
Fire fighters have told Bulletin that they often use their own money to buy replacement parts for their fire trucks without being reimbursed. One fire fighter who requested anonymity for fear of persecution said that there have been cases where he and a few of his crew mates clubbed together to buy a new tyre for one of the trucks. “If we did not replace that tyre ourselves, we would have had to wait three or four months for Mopani to approve the purchase. We cannot place our community’s lives in danger because of red tape and protocol that prevents us from doing our jobs.”
Bulletin has sent an enquiry to the spokesperson of the Mopani District Municipality, Neil Shikwambana and will publish his responses in our next edition.